When it comes to writing an About Us page for your nonprofit, there are no steadfast rules. However, there are some essential guidelines that must be followed in order to remain consistent with your visitor’s expectations. But where do you even start? The About Us page is essential for the one thing that nonprofits need most: building trust. When visitors stumble upon your site, and your homepage piques their curiosity, they’re not ready to pull out their wallets and head to your donation page. They need time to understand you, your mission, and your purpose. Only after they have done their proper research, and learned to trust you, will they venture onto your donation page. Their first stop? About Us.
When building your About Us page, a few components are absolutely essential. This includes the mission statement and vision statement, along with a brief statement encompassing the heart of the organization. The more your organization grows and evolves, the more you will have to include in your About Us section. While every nonprofit will have a different variation depending on your specific needs and challenges, these are the necessary components to creating your nonprofit’s About Us page.
If you are a newer nonprofit, you likely have a less complex organization, with less content to include on your About Us page, so keeping it short and sweet is a good place to start. As you build, gain exposure, and begin to make changes, you’ll have more to include. But whether you got up and running last month or 22 years ago, these basics are required to be on your About Us page.
First and foremost, your About Us statement. Your website visitors need immediate answers. This section should be a brief overview or introduction that references your mission and the point of your organization.
Our number one piece of advice for your About Us statement? Make sure you write for an audience that knows absolutely nothing about who you are. All too often we see statements written by someone who is intimately familiar with the organization. If your mission is more commonly known, like helping the homeless or youth programs, it’s okay to simplify your statement. But, if it’s more complicated, you need to explain in more detail. Make sure you’re writing for someone who has never heard of your organization and isn’t even remotely aware that people are fighting for your mission.
- We always recommend that this statement be prominently placed above the fold on the main About Us page. While other basic components like your mission, vision, and values, can all be bumped to a secondary page, your About Us statement should not be moved from your main page.
Your nonprofit mission statement is the core statement of your organization. It’s expected to be included on pages that review your nonprofit like Guidestar and something every potential donor expects to find easily. More than this, it’s the heart and soul of your organization. Your mission is a cohesive statement that explains why you exist and what you do. It should always be factored in whenever you are making serious decisions about your organization, reminding yourselves to stay true to your mission. Including this on your About Us page not only provides transparency, but also depicts the purpose of your organization to your constituents. To learn more about how to create a nonprofit mission statement, check out infographic here.
- Visitors to your site will expect to find your mission statement quickly, so featuring it prominently under its own heading is always suggested.
Your vision statement is the next step from your mission statement. This statement visually depicts the ideal state where your nonprofit has finished its work. It’s important because allowing your visitors to create a mental image of a different world is the first step to realizing that it’s possible.
The statement itself should consist of between 5 to 25 words, depending on the complexity of your cause, and the community you’re serving. For more information on how to write a vision statement for your nonprofit, you can read our guide, or check out this list of 20 inspirational vision statements we gathered to inspire your nonprofit.
- Your vision statement should follow your mission statement, whether in its own section or continued in the next statement. You can specify this statement starting with Our vision is… or We envision… etc.
Core Values are an important component for your nonprofit. These three to six selected values are passed along throughout your nonprofit to create a sense of cohesion among leadership and participants. Examples of values your organization could include are Integrity, Inclusion, Empowerment, or Honesty. Each of these values should be actively practiced and referred to by your organization.
When writing the Core Values section on your About Us page, make sure to include an explanation of each value, and how it’s meant to be acted upon. Here’s a great example from the Alzheimer’s Association.
- This section is generally added following the mission and vision statement, and if you decide to break up your About Us page into different segments, these three are often all featured on the same page.
One thing I really love about nonprofit organizations is that they often are born from a place of passion, which makes your story a pivotal aspect that should be shared prominently on your About Us page. Our society and minds are driven by connecting with stories. Take the opportunity to allow visitors to relate to your journey. Talk about the challenges, the inspiration, the first steps, and how you’ve arrived where you are today. This personal touch is relatable and finishes off a page of many theoretical statements with something honest and real.
- As the story of your nonprofit is generally a little longer, include it at the end after your Mission, Vision and/or Core Values. This is a great way to tie your page together, and allow your website visitors to easily skim over your page and build interest in actually reading your story.
The more your nonprofit grows, the more content you’ll have to expand your nonprofit’s About Us page. A common way nonprofit’s choose to disseminate this information is like this example from Vaccinate Your Family: a series of clickable buttons that venture deeper into the different sections of your organization. Or, see the example below from ACLU New Jersey, with a secondary menu at the top. The buttons each share a small piece of content for each subpage, which allows visitors to become familiar with the different aspects of your organization, and then decide what they’d like to read next, while the menu relies on only the headings. Depending on the complexity of your About Us statement, one might be more suited for your organization.
In the following sections, we’ll cover the necessary content to include for each section. You can pick and choose which sections are needed for your organization depending on your specific needs and resources.
Your leadership section should include your board of directors and your C-suite management team. Your C-suite management team should each have a biography and photo for each team member. Include their history, accomplishments, board membership, and how they have affected the organization already. Make sure to be honest, clear and professional. Extra points is you can include how they connect to your mission, or act on your organization’s core values.
The same can and should be included for your board of directors. Transparency, transparency, transparency. Also, If your organization has any special task-force teams, or other leadership teams that have high decision making power, make sure they are all included as well.
Our Strategic Plan
When describing your organization’s mission and vision, you’re really only talking in generals. This is where the strategic plan section can really change the game. These are the specific milestones you want to hit, and how you plan to hit them. These are concrete, actionable steps with real consequences.
With your strategic plan, you can also include a X-year vision or Vision by 20XX. This will be a short term vision statement that is more specific to what your community or organization would look like if you fully carried out your strategic plan.
Many nonprofits include their finances in the About Us section. As a nonprofit, transparency with your financials is incredibly important. There are a few sections that you can include. The first is where your funds are actually going, or Use of Funds. Include in this section a brief overview of where your expenses go, how much is administrative, how much goes to your actual mission, and how much is allocated for fundraising. Do you follow the BBB Wise Giving Alliance suggested allocation of funds? You can also include a link to give.org’s review of your financials, if you have it.
IRS Information Returns: Form 990. Required by the IRS, all 501(c) organizations must publicly publish Form 990. Here is a great place to include these forms. Include a full history of your 990s from each year. More information can be found here.
Lastly, if your organization has yearly audits, it’s great to post these as well. These show constituents detailed information about where your money is actually going. This is always helpful to build trust with your audience.
In the News / Newsroom
Have you sparked controversy, made headlines, or caught the attention by the press? Include it! People love to look through your past work, and read through the waves you’ve made as an organization. More than this, seeing other accounts of your organization by people that aren’t from inside the org provides an extra level of trust, depending on who wrote it. So don’t be shy!
Every nonprofit is different. Your organization might have some incredibly necessary information to include on your page that doesn’t apply to others. Maybe you’re centered around your volunteer community and need a section about joining? Or, perhaps you’re a research oriented nonprofit and need a section about your commitment to research and the discoveries you have already made.
Other sections you can include (but are not limited to):
- Past Campaigns
- Career and volunteer opportunities
- Annual Reports
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Affiliates or Partners
There are endless possibilities when it comes to your About Us page. The most important thing to keep in mind - when a new visitor comes to your nonprofit’s website for the first time, they should be able to quickly understand who you are, what you do, why you are important and why they should work with you.